Dynamic anterior stabilisers of the shoulder with the arm in abduction

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1994 Sep;76(5):834-6.


The stabilising effects on the glenohumeral joint of each of the rotator-cuff muscles and of the biceps were studied with the arm in abduction and external rotation in 13 cadaver shoulders. The muscles were loaded one at a time with forces proportional to their cross-sectional areas. We recorded the positions of the humeral head before and after the application to the humerus of an anterior force of 1.5 kg. When the capsule was intact, the anterior displacement with the subscapularis loaded was significantly larger than with the other muscles loaded (p = 0.0009). With the capsule vented, the displacement with the biceps loaded was significantly smaller than that with the subscapularis loaded (p = 0.0052). After creating an imitation Bankart lesion, the displacement with the biceps loaded was significantly less than with any of the rotator-cuff muscles loaded (p = 0.0132). We conclude that in the intact shoulder, the subscapularis is the least important anterior stabiliser, and that the biceps becomes more important than the rotator-cuff muscles as stability from the capsuloligamentous structure decreases. Strengthening of the biceps as well as the rotator-cuff muscles should be part of the rehabilitation programme for anterior shoulder instability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arm / physiopathology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cadaver
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / etiology
  • Joint Dislocations / physiopathology*
  • Joint Instability / etiology
  • Joint Instability / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Rotator Cuff / physiopathology*
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology*
  • Weight-Bearing